SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the June 14 episode of “The Bachelorette.”
Katie Thurston’s reign as the sex-positive Bachelorette continued during her first group date of the new season of ABC’s dating competition. She was joined by podcast host Heather McDonald with 10 of her remaining men as they competed for the title of “The Greatest Lover of All Time.”
Each man was encouraged to interpret the prompt in their own way — from sexual to subtle. The performances ranged from Connor Brennan’s innocent song-serenade to Tre Cooper’s erotic puppet performance. Karl Smith received negative attention for his long winded-sexual monologue, but it was Mike Planeta — whose poetic confession as a virgin — was named the winner. Despite anxieties before the performance, his candor was rewarded by Katie.
A cocktail date followed the performances, where Karl emerged as the season’s first villain. His vibrato and declaration that the competition was like the “Hunger Games” garnered criticism from the men, but his confidence did not convert to Katie. Instead, she rewarded Thomas Jacobs with a rose because their conversation about their “magic” connection was her night’s highlight.
Later in the week, Greg Grippo was the recipient of the first one-on-one date, after already receiving the first impression rose during night one. The two spent their afternoon outdoors, pitching a tent, fishing and hiking. Katie became emotional during the activities, as she was reminded of memories with her late father. Greg supported her throughout the day and also revealed his own experience with grief in losing his dad two years prior. The two bonded over their losses and Greg was rewarded with a rose and a late-night fireworks display.
Eight more men attended the next group date, which was a cowboy-themed “Katie’s Big Buckle Brawl.” They were divided into pairs and mud-wrestled, but it was Aaron Clancy and Cody Menk’s tense scuffle that concerned Katie. After declaring Aaron the winner of the competition and recipient of extra one-on-one time, she used the opportunity to talk about the conflict.
Aaron revealed he knew Cody from home and had concerns about his intentions of being on the show. He accused Cody of being “malicious” and looking for “fame,” and cautioned Katie of his character. Rattled by the accusations, Katie quickly confronted Cody during the evening portion of the date. Without a solid defense and little chemistry, Katie sent him home.
Despite the negativity of the date, Katie still found highlights, and Andrew Spencer emerged as a strong connection. He shared how much he admired his family and mother, and Katie responded with her own childhood experiences. They bonded over their shared upbringings and Andrew received the group date rose.
With Thomas, Greg and Andrew all safe from elimination, the remaining men used the cocktail party to try and secure a rose. However, Karl used his time to plant seeds of doubt with Katie, accusing other men of being disingenuous like Cody. Katie pushed him for more information, but he couldn’t provide examples, proof or basis for the allegations. The conversation brought Katie to tears and led her to confront the entire group of men.
“I don’t know how clear I can be about my intentions or my time, but if you are not here for me, if you are not here for an engagement, then get the f— out,” she said.
The entire group was confused as to the root of the outburst and quickly turned on Karl when he admitted to being the source of the allegations. It quickly turned to a mob, where they accused him of fabricating stories and manipulating Katie in an attempt to gain her trust.
Katie left in tears, with the fate of the remaining roses still in the balance.
“The Bachelorette” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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